Last year, I came across this article titled “10 Things Never to Say to a Single Mom”, and I couldn’t wait to give it a read. There were a few things on that list that didn’t necessarily set off my single mom alarm. But there were some others just begging for an “Amen!”
So, I decided to list my top five favorites and treat you to my possible (ok, probable) responses to these gaffes, as well as a little feminist critique here and there… it’s Women’s History Month, ya’ll!
Ok, let’s begin with an oldie, but a goodie…
1. “Where’s your baby daddy?”
My response: Why, would you like to speak with him?
Let’s dissect this a bit, shall we? This question sort of assumes that the father is out of the picture. And that’s not necessarily the case for every single mother. And for the moms for whom this is the case, here’s a word to the wise: If you don’t already know, we’re probably not close enough for you to ask me that question. I once had a former co-worker ask me if my child’s father paid child support… out loud, while we were in a staff meeting. No need to repeat what I said.
2. “It must be so hard to date.”
My response: Um, yep. Check out my post about it on RCM.
Indeed, single motherhood can make for some tricky dating scenarios, so I say hook a girl up! Now, I readily admit that I might be a little sensitive about this one, but this statement can also come off kinda “Who’s gonna take on you and your kid(s)?” A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.
3. “How do you afford being a single parent?”
My response: I don’t.
Let me explain. I don’t know very many women who, married or not, when they discovered they were having a baby felt 100% certain they could afford it. This is really a question about financial means – also a bit of a touchy subject. But what about families where Dad works full time outside the home and Mom works at home, or vice versa? Would anyone ask a stay-at-home parent this question? Bottom line is most single moms are also working moms.
4. “Children need fathers for male role models.”
My response: Children need GOOD male role models.
And they may or may not come in the form of biological fathers, but I say don’t count out grandpas, uncles, cousins, teachers and just good ol’ fashioned, trustworthy men that can provide love and support for our kids. My dad, for example, just happens to be my daughter’s best buddy. (And that’s what she calls him – Buddy.)
5. “Are you scared you’ll accidentally get pregnant again?”
My first response (wink): Say what, now???
My second response: No, I’m not. I don’t have a uterus anymore.
First, who says the pregnancy was an accident? Lots of women are single mothers by choice. Secondly, not every single mother started out as a single parent. And if we’re talking about surprise pregnancies, married couples are not immune to them. (I’ll save the birth control PSA for another time.)
So here’s what I found really interesting about the original article – the title. It left me wondering if folks would be so quick to ask these kinds of questions to a single dad. Hmmm…
Listen, I’ve heard all five of these, and most of the time, people don’t mean any harm. But it never hurts to think before we speak; no matter what you motherhood status happens to be.
Fellow Single Parents – have you heard any of these before? Is there one in particular that irks you more than others, or do you have some advice about the right things to say? Leave me a comment and we’ll commiserate.
Taralyn Caudle is a freelance writer and Huntsville native who returned to her hometown to raise her beautiful and energetic daughter, Gabby. When she’s not nurturing the talents of her budding artist, she can be found on the hunt for good food, good music, or a good deal on a pair of shoes. Practically possessed by politics, purple, and Prince, she loves alliteration (obviously) and has been known to quote music lyrics in everyday conversation, from Hall & Oates to
Kanye West Kendrick Lamar. Her current philosophy on life: a little bit of sarcasm and a whole lot of laughter never hurt anybody.